PROFESSIONAL GOLF GLOBAL GROUP, LLC and LYNN VAN ARCHIBALD, Appellants,
ANN HUYNH, Appellee.
FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE REHEARING MOTION AND, IF
from the Circuit Court for Hillsborough County; Gregory P.
L. Ray and Elizabeth M. Fernandez of Jesse Lee Ray Attorney
at Law, P.A., Tampa (withdrew after briefing), for
Van Archibald, pro se.
appearance for Appellant Professional Golf Global Group, LLC.
Brendan R. Riley of Riley Law Group New Port Richey, for
Professional Golf Global Group, LLC ("PGGG") and
Lynn Van Archibald ("Archibald") appeal the trial
court's nonfinal order denying their motion to set aside
the judicial default and default final judgment filed under
Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.540(b). We have
jurisdiction. See Fla. R. App. P. 9.130(a)(5).
Because PGGG and Archibald established excusable neglect,
raised meritorious defenses, and acted with due diligence, we
23, 2017, Archibald was served with the summons and complaint
in his individual capacity and as an officer of PGGG. The two
count complaint seeks damages for breach of contract (count
I) and money lent (count II). The complaint alleges that: Ann
Huynh ("Huynh") lent Archibald $70, 000 for the
purpose of operating and making improvements to PGGG, a golf
course; PGGG and Archibald breached the contract by failing
to pay the debt; and PGGG and Archibald are jointly and
severally liable for the $70, 000.
11, 2017, prior to the expiration of the twenty-day period in
which PGGG and Archibald had to file their response,
Archibald sent a letter to Huynh and her counsel advising
that he was seeking counsel to represent both parties and
that he needed additional time to respond to the complaint.
The letter was also mailed to the court and docketed on July
13, 2017, the day the responses were due.
same day, July 13, 2017, Huynh filed a motion for clerk's
default, which was denied. On Tuesday, July 18, 2017, Huynh
filed her motion for judicial default and mailed a copy to
PGGG and Archibald. The motion for judicial default misstated
that the date for PGGG and Archibald to respond was July 9,
2017, and did not mention the letter sent by Archibald
requesting more time to respond to the complaint. The order
granting the motion for judicial default was rendered Friday,
July 28, 2017, and a copy was mailed to PGGG and Archibald.
Tuesday, August 1, 2017, Huynh filed her motion for default
final judgment and mailed a copy to PGGG and Archibald. The
order granting the default final judgment was rendered on
August 8, 2017. A copy was mailed to PGGG and Archibald.
for PGGG and Archibald filed their notice of appearance the
following Friday, August 18, 2017. On Tuesday, August 22,
2017, counsel filed the motion to vacate default and default
final judgment. The motion was initially unsworn; however,
the trial court allowed PGGG and Archibald additional time to
prepare and file an affidavit in support of their motion. The
affidavit in support of the motion to vacate provided that
PGGG and Archibald had been served with two lawsuits and an
action for receivership, all around the same time. Archibald
had contacted an attorney to represent PGGG and himself, but
after Archibald received notice of the other lawsuits, and
discussed them with the attorney, the attorney determined
that he was unable to represent PGGG and Archibald. Archibald
was looking for another attorney and had not yet retained an
attorney when the responses in this case were due.
Accordingly, Archibald wrote the letter to Huynh's
attorney and to the court advising that he was looking to
retain an attorney and needed more time to file a response to
affidavit also raised a number of defenses to the complaint.
Specifically, the affidavit stated that the agreement between
the parties was never intended to be a loan and that Huynh
never loaned PGGG or Archibald $70, 000. The affidavit also
stated that according to the terms of the agreement, lack of
payment was not a breach of the agreement. Finally, the
affidavit provided that Huynh breached the agreement first by
failing to move out of a residence on the property, as
required by the agreement. PGGG and Archibald also raised
legal defenses in their motion to vacate, including that PGGG